Financial troubles can happen at any time for Texans. For many people, filing for bankruptcy is the best solution to their current financial issues. In 2021 alone, almost 400,000 personal bankruptcy cases were filed across the United States. If you are feeling overwhelmed by debt, struggling to make payments, or looking for some form of relief from creditors, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option. Here at Steele Law Firm, we are prepared to help you evaluate your current circumstances and figure out what your next step should be as you navigate this difficult situation.
Filing for bankruptcy in Mineral Wells, Texas seems like a daunting process to many people, which is why they often avoid considering it. At Steele Law Firm, we have over a decade of experience working with bankruptcy law. We can not only help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is best for your situation, but we can also assist you through the legal process if you decide that it is. Our firm is dedicated to helping our clients through their financial troubles so that they can finally find some peace of mind when it is finished. We offer a comfortable, welcoming environment to all individuals, no matter their situation, and are committed to helping you find a solution that works for you. With our experience, knowledge, and compassion, you can be confident that your bankruptcy case is in trustworthy and capable hands.
When an individual who is not part of a business files for bankruptcy, it is known as “personal bankruptcy.” If you are filing for personal bankruptcy in Texas, you have two main options.
One of the most common types of bankruptcy is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is most often used by struggling individuals with lower incomes and occasionally small businesses with very few assets. Through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual can be freed from some or all of their unsecured debts, like unpaid medical or credit card bills, by liquidating certain assets. Technically speaking, you are selling your assets to pay off some of the debts that you owe. All nonexempt assets may be subject to liquidation if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed. This includes:
Other assets may also be subject to liquidation. Exempt items include:
In some cases, if an individual only owns exempt property or does not own much nonexempt property of value, they may not pay anything at the time.
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas, you must meet the following requirements:
Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in that you develop an individualized payment plan to repay your debts instead of liquidating your assets. This form of bankruptcy is available to those with enough income to properly structure a payment plan over the next 3 to 5 years. This option allows you to keep all your assets and also protects you from potential issues, such as having your home foreclosed.
To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Texas, you must meet the following requirements:
When filing for bankruptcy, it is important to understand the difference between secured and unsecured debt, as both terms will appear frequently throughout the process. The biggest difference between the two is that with unsecured debt, there is no collateral. This means that if an individual stops paying what they owe in unsecured debt, the business or creditor has no collateral to repossess to help them get their money back. Instead, they can only penalize individuals through their credit score and debt.
Secured debt, however, is backed by collateral. This means that if you start to fall behind on your payments or stop paying your debts all together, you can potentially lose the property pledged as collateral. The most common kinds of secured debts include car and home loans, whereas unsecured debt includes almost all other financial matters, from personal shopping debt to medical bills.
While the bankruptcy process in Texas is not necessarily difficult, it can still take multiple months to finish it properly. The average bankruptcy case follows these general steps:
Before filing for bankruptcy, you are going to need to gather a wide range of financial information from previous years.
Documents that detail this information and more all need to be collected so that you and an attorney can properly assess your current estate.
No matter what state you are in, you are required to take a credit counseling class that discusses debt relief with you and helps you better understand the differences between varying kinds of bankruptcies. The course must be run by a provider approved by the state and is required for every individual looking to file for bankruptcy, regardless of whether they have a personal attorney or not. Once you finish your course, you will be given a certificate that is valid for the next 180 days. Within those next 180 days, you will be expected to turn in your bankruptcy documents, including your valid certificate.
After taking your credit counseling class, it is strongly advised that you find an experienced debt attorney to assist you throughout the bankruptcy process. Before filing, you will first need to determine which kind of bankruptcy is best for you. Most likely, you will be choosing between either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. An attorney familiar with the laws surrounding debt can help you figure out what type of bankruptcy is right for you.
There are multiple forms that need to be filled out to file, some varying depending on the final type of bankruptcy you decide to file for. Once you have filled out all the necessary forms and received your credit counseling course certificate, you can then file your petition for bankruptcy in the state of Texas. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will have to pay a filing fee of $335. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to pay a fee of $310.
For your bankruptcy to be finalized and discharged, you must first take another course on debt education. This class is designed to help individuals prepare for their fresh start after bankruptcy and give them the tools and knowledge they need to better manage their finances in the future. You cannot take this second class until you have filed for bankruptcy through your local court. You can wait to take the class as long as you want, but you only have until 60 days after your 341 meeting to file your certificate. Otherwise, your case might not be discharged. If your case is not discharged, then you are ultimately still left with the responsibility to pay your debts.
As required by Section 341(a) of the legal Bankruptcy Code, you must attend a 341 meeting before your case can be discharged. After filing your petition, you will receive a notification from the court outlining where and when your 341 meeting will take place. A 341 meeting is a critical part of your bankruptcy case because it allows both your trustee and your creditors to meet and discuss any potential issues, ask questions, and review your case. At this meeting, you will also confirm your identity and ensure that the financial information disclosed is valid.
If there are no discrepancies with your Texas bankruptcy case, and you have completed the required courses and attended your 341 meeting, your case will be finalized. Once everything is in order, the court will order that an individual's debts be discharged. This usually occurs 60 to 90 days after your 341 meeting.
At Steele Law Firm, we understand just how difficult filing for bankruptcy can be. Financial troubles are often emotional, which makes having an attorney that you can count on during this process an immense help. There are several advantages that come along with working with our team:
Individuals in Texas most commonly choose from two main types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. At Steele Law Firm, we prioritize helping our clients find a solution that works best for them. That is why we work to make sure that you are not only aware of all your potential options but that you understand what each of them can do for you, too. In many cases, alternatives to bankruptcy can be achieved. Bankruptcy is a big decision to make, which is why we give you the advice, knowledge, and support you need to feel comfortable choosing the best option for you.
When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, many people are unsure of the legal aspects that are involved. This is because, in most cases, they do not have experience with it and have never filed before. By working with our firm, our team can help you better understand bankruptcy laws so that we can help you make the best decision for your unique circumstances.
Between gathering financial records, finding the correct documents to fill out, and taking educational courses, filing for bankruptcy can easily become overwhelming. With the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, you can receive the assistance you need to navigate your case. Our team understands how important, emotional, and difficult filing for bankruptcy can be, which is why we help manage the case along the way.
If you are going through bankruptcy, there is some debt that your case will apply to, and there is some debt that is exempt. The debt that is exempt from being forgiven is known as "non-dischargeable debt." For example, alimony and child support are both non-dischargeable debts. This means that if you fall behind on your payments and even file for bankruptcy, you are still required to make those payments and continue them in the future.
In most cases, student loans are non-dischargeable unless an individual meets a few strict requirements. Otherwise, student loans are exempt because politicians were worried students would immediately file for bankruptcy after school to get rid of their loans. Other non-dischargeable debt includes 401(k) loans, debt that was not listed in your bankruptcy document, and government debt, including fines and other penalties.
A: Technically, there is no minimum amount of debt required to file for bankruptcy. It mostly revolves around whether you are able to pay the debt that you owe. There is a small restriction on the maximum debt a person can have, but this only applies to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
A: Technically, there is no legal limit to the number of times you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies. With that said, there is a time limit restricting how often you can do so. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can only file after 8 years have passed since your last bankruptcy. With Chapter 13 cases, you only have to wait 2 years.
A: The length of your case will depend on what kind of bankruptcy you filed for. If you filed for Chapter 7, your case may take anywhere from 3 to 6 or more months to finally come to completion. With a Chapter 13 case, however, the case is not closed until the debt has been repaid. This means that the case usually lasts between 3 and 5 years, depending on the payment plan you are using.
A: Yes. If your bankruptcy is discharged, all creditors that have been pursuing you must pause their actions. This includes all agencies or companies that are trying to repossess your property, including your vehicle. Working with a skilled and expert bankruptcy attorney can help you navigate any issues with collection agencies that are still pursuing you in violation of the law.
A: Legally, you are not required to have an attorney when filing for bankruptcy, but it is highly recommended. This is because an attorney can not only help you find which kind of bankruptcy is best for you, but they can also assist you through the complicated legal aspects and ensure you are filing properly. If you do something wrong, there are some cases where you can be charged with ignorance of the law.
No matter what type of financial trouble you are dealing with, our team at Steele Law Firm is ready to help you take the next step in repairing it. We understand how overwhelming and stressful financial issues can be, which is why we offer multiple kinds of legal bankruptcy services for our clients who need help. With the help of our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of an expert. With strong, compassionate legal representation and support, working with our team at Steele Law Firm can make a big difference in your case.
To learn more about Steele Law Firm and our different legal services, do not hesitate to contact us today.